Thursday, May 01, 2008

White Hats, Black Hats & Grey Hats

I’m an old movie buff. I grew up watching John Wayne and Audie Murphy westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats and the only grey was in the clothing. Only in Hollywood. In the real world, we live in shades of grey. Heroes have flaws and villains sometimes have virtues. My hubby’s sermon last week reinforced that principle and reminded me that shades of grey exists within the Church as well.

Taken from II Kings 10, we heard the story of Jehu who was zealous for the Lord. That alone would make you think he wears a white hat, but Jehu’s hat is grey.

Jehu was zealous for the Lord and destroyed the Baal worshipers, pouring vengeance out on the house of Ahab and Jezebel. However, Jehu continued the “sins of Jeroboam” - golden calf worship. [Jeroboam had reinstituted golden calf worship (I Kings 12) as the true way to worship God. He apparently maintained that Moses and Aaron had gotten it wrong - Golden calf worship wasn’t idolatry or worshipping another god, it was the proper way to worship.] Jehu was zealous for the Lord and yet very wrong on worship.

That’s a good lesson for the rest of us. In conservative theological circles, we sometimes demand our theologians wear snow white hats. They must be “right” on all matters before we can benefit from their teaching, so we think. I think an argument can be made, based on II Kings 10, that this is an extra biblical standard.

Bobby has helped to broaden my perspective on theological matters. I have become much more ecumenical over the course of our marriage. I am a Presbyterian because I believe the Presbyterian form of church government and reformed theology is the closest to the teaching of Scripture. Nevertheless, I still learn from Baptist teachers. I have an appreciation for some Methodist writers. I have learned from Catholic scholars and even Eastern Orthodox scholars. Anglican Bishop N. T. Wright has opened Scripture to me in marvelous ways!

N. T. Wright is a good example of a white hat with gray stripes. There are many issues on which Bishop Wright and I would part ways (economic matters as a prime example), but Wright is a conservative scholar who goes toe to toe with the liberal theologians of the ‘in search of the historical Jesus’ movement. He stands for the truth and has the academic and intellectual wherewithal to do so.

If I had dismissed Wright as a liberal because of his affiliation with the Anglican church or his views on third-world debt, etc., I would have missed out on some of the most wonderful teaching of our age.

Scripture recognizes heroes sometimes have feet of clay. We should recognize that as well.

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